Angels in the Garden
Out from the Cold
By Alex Croley
(Apollo and Humphrey belong to this author)
CHAPTER 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
Chapter 1 - Choices in the Garden
The evening was cool and crisp; summer had begun giving way to fall at last. A cool breeze seemed to give a slight chill in the air. It was if Mother Nature herself was alerting the animals that winter was fast approaching. However, this did not stop Crickets were alive with their usual chatter. In the distance some could here the croaking of many of the resident frogs in a pond. And if one was listening closely enough one could hear a distinctly fiery argument between a hummingbird, a bat and a mouse.
"What do you mean you aren't going into hibernation this winter?!?" the Hummingbird yipped. He took a moment to consider his friend's current state of mind. Sure city mice didn't have the problems of heat so they kept awake through the winter months; but still this wasn't the best place in the world to make such a drastic choice. Then again this was Apollo Thisletoe he was dealing with. This poor child had the hardest time conforming to the ways of the country life. Always talking about adventuring in the city, being where he had come from after his parents died.
Apollo only sighed at his longtime friend Humphrey Castlehopper, (or Hmmvy as Apollo usually called him). Sitting up on his hunches Apollo looked at Hmmvy, "All I am saying is that I'm tired letting four months of my life pass me every year and this year I want to see snow and ice and survive the cold..." *Besides it would give me an excuse to go back to the city and see what it was like again.* Apollo thought. He wanted to ask the others if they wanted to come, but, looking over to his friend Foxglove he didn't want to bring it up.
"Will you at least help me find a cave to perch myself for the winter?" Foxglove, who was more fearful than anything else. She had met the duo a few month after she left the Rescue Rangers. They had taken a fancy to doing what the Rescue Rangers did; which was help the world a little at a time. Humphrey with his knowledge and Apollo with his cunning, the two worked in tandem with another, but was more than willing to add Foxglove to their pack. She had traveled, mainly staying in the countryside, always having Apollo nesting nearby while Humphrey flew south for the winter.
"Sure Foxglove and I'll even find a place where the three of us could meet." Apollo said. He wasn't worried about Humphrey one bit about this endeavor; after a few arguments he'd have Hmmvy worn down and that would be the end of the discussion. No, the problem in Apollo's mind was Foxglove. Even with all of the adventures they had together, she still always seemed to have a self-esteem problem that neither Hmmvy or himself could pinpoint. She never took an interest in any of the bats they ran across, and that had worried them a lot. She usually was closed mouthed about her past, preferring to change the subject when ever she could.
"We my intrepid friend where is it that you shall go? Or will I see your frozen carcass somewhere in the melting snow?" Hmmvy said with a sarcastic tone. Hmmvy knew that Apollo usually didn't mind the bluntness of his comments, as a matter of fact he usually admired his friend's ability not to take anything said about him to personally.
As a matter of fact, Apollo had missed the whole remark altogether saying, "Probably the city nearby", without a whole lot of his usual bravo. Not that he was lacking his spirit, but feeling a bit more thoughtful about what he wanted to say. The evening was feeling a little more uneasy as the night wore on. He looked over to Foxglove and saw her nervousness go up a notch. Was it him or did she get a bit paler as well?
"W...well I guess that as long as you are going I may as well accompany you too..." She said almost at a whisper. This sudden turn of events unnerved her because it was the same city as the Rescue Rangers and her heart and soulmate Dale. Although Apollo was going in that city, Foxglove was not going to let him go alone... he had been her friend and confident for too long. Friendships had been few and far between for her and she wasn't about to lose one though neglect.
But, Apollo shook his head vehemently, "No Foxglove, you know that your body couldn't stand such a cold climate."
"And who was it that saved you from inside the freezer last month?" She said with a little more conviction in her voice.
"The same bat that nearly died from the intense cold of that same freezer." Apollo shot back, not backing down one inch. "I can survive the cold better than you can."
But neither was Foxglove, "You may be the Alpha of this pack when it comes to the team, but you do NOT tell me where to go and what to do."
Apollo was slightly taken aback by Foxglove's sudden change from an almost submissive bat, to one that had a temper that rivaled his own. This brought up his already growing respect for her a few notches. As his mind was registering the change in personality, Foxglove pressed on, "You are my friend, one of my FEW friends, and I will not let you go to that city alone without any sort of support."
"I guess then we should prepare to go to the city", Hmmvy said casually. He knew this day was coming, as much as Hmmvy was trying to resist and curb Apollo's need to return to city life. Even when he had helped in Apollo's upbringing, he had always admired Apollo's ability to cope with anything. But, alone, not very bloody likely. Especially now.
Apollo could not believe his ears. He had always seen Humphrey as the traditional sort. Flying south for the winter, observing mating rituals, nesting, the list went on but, now he was going to throw it all away to help do the sort of things that seemed to go against the very nature of Hmmvy. He turned to see the determination in his friends eyes as well as Foxglove who sat down beside him. So he did what he had to do, namely backing down, "Alright... fine," throwing his hands into the air. "But, please promise me that when your bodies start telling you to take care of yourselves you will."
"Deal." was all that was said in response from Hmmvy and Foxglove only nodded.
Hmmvy was in a sort of a quandary as the night passed. Why was Foxglove so insistent on going with Apollo to the city? Gaia only knew what sort of trouble this would cause the three of them.
To her credit she was able to help curb Apollo's nature to jump feet first into something; and he doubted how much that was appreciated by both himself and his lifelong friend. Her strength, in Hmmvy's opinion, was her ability to see good in almost any person. However, her own self-esteem, was questionable at best. She would rarely speak out unless asked, (thankfully Apollo had started to ask) and yet there would be an unfathanable wisdom about what she had to say.
But, there was something in Foxglove's eyes that seemed to change when Apollo had made his decision. At first he chalked this up to keeping the group together, but there were some inconsistencies with that theory. First, for the past two years, they had made a pact to meet in a very specific place when spring first arrived. Secondly, and most importantly, her sudden mood swing; it had never been that aggressive before. Lastly, there was the question of Foxglove's shrouded past. These were questions that Hmmvy just could not get out of his mind.
Out of sight of the others, one lone bat looked toward the moon with a sadness that she had not shared with the others. 'Will you be there Dale?' She thought to herself, 'Do you still think of me now, as you did before?'
Foxglove, felt more than a little guilty about telling nothing to Apollo or Humphrey, about Dale or the Rescue Rangers. At first it was because she didn't want to be abandoned by them, but after a while she knew the reason was more than that. She wanted to forget her former life and perhaps start another somewhere else. With someone else. But as time wore on Foxglove could not escape one fact that had stayed with her from the beginning: She loved Dale with all of her heart and soul. The fear that drove her away from him had somehow brought her back.
Chapter 2 - Waiting in the Garden
"This stinks" Hmmvy said visibly unhappy.
"You could always go back south you know," Apollo said with a bit of an annoyance. Hmmvy had always avoided cities when he could, instead he favored the more natural surrounding of the county side. He had started grumbling from the moment that he entered the city limits, and went nonstop from there.
"No I mean this stinks." Hmmvy clarified his statement by pointing his beak toward a collection of garbage cans. Apollo only smirked at his friends dismay.
The two of them had agreed that while Foxglove slept most of the day away; Humphrey and Apollo would find a place to call home inside the city. After the first couple of hours, the search had turned up very little. Not that they couldn't find any places to eat or drink, but there was not many places that the two could agree on. Apollo wanted to live in an abandoned building; while Humphrey, on the other hand, wanted to live in a patch of wilderness just outside of the city.
A thought struck Humphrey, "You know there may be a park nearby, perhaps we should explore there?"
Apollo smiled at the idea, it had a lot of merit. "Do you think you can get me up to the top of that building to get a better look?"
Humphrey nodded and picked up Apollo by his shoulders. Although it usually hurt, Apollo had become use to the ride and even enjoyed it. However, the trip on the Hmmvy Express left both of them tired and in a little bit of pain. This was especially no exception when Hmmvy realized the change in air currents that buffeted he ascent. The worst part came when they cleared the top of the building and a gust of wind nearly blew them into the adjacent building. 'This will take some getting use to again.' Hmmvy thought, finally reaching the roof of the taller building. Dropping Apollo on to the ground he said in between huffing and puffing, "Don't ask me to do THAT for a while. I think you've gained weight."
"Naw," Apollo said without a second thought, "your just showing your age." He began massaging his shoulders. "Besides I think we struck pay dirt."
Hmmvy looked over the ledge where Apollo had been standing and gave a slight smile. From there he could see the park no more than three or four blocks. "Well, we can rest up for a bit and explore before the late afternoon. Hopefully, by then Foxglove will have had enough rest."
Apollo gave a nod and leaned back to give his feet a rest. "You know something, I kind of worried about Foxglove. She has been acting kind of strange as of late."
"Yes, your right, she had been reeeally closed mouthed." Hmmvy said taking out a pouch with his beak. "And she had seemed nervous ever since you decided to see the city again."
Apollo had wanted to talk to Foxglove for the past week, but every time he would ask something; she would give him an explanation of 'I am just getting a little cold that's all.' The lie wasn't becoming of her to say the least, so Apollo just let it go. It really hurt to know when a friend could not trust another. Especially, when it came to trusting your partner in crime fighting. The worried look cast on Apollo's face caught Hmmvy's attention quickly.
"I know that look anywhere Apollo," Hmmvy said in a quiet fatherly voice, "It's the look that I see just before we get ourselves into a whole lot of trouble."
"Well, what if Foxglove's hidden past was started here?" Apollo said in the same worried tone that crept onto his face. "I mean, what if what she wants to hide from us is right here in this city?"
"I had wondered that to..." Hmmvy started as he cast his gaze into the sky. Then, something caught his attention, a strange bird that caught his eye. It flew low to the ground and never flapped it's wings. 'It couldn't be.' he thought, 'No, I must be seeing things.'
"You know I have never seen a plane like that before," Apollo said looking at the object that had caught his friend's attention. "I didn't even think that anyone could put one together like that."
"I have." was all that Hmmvy could say. "A long time ago."
"Oh no, now don't you start flipping out on me," Apollo said shaking his head. "Where have you seen that before?"
"A year before you came to the orphanage." Hmmvy said pivoting his head to follow where the 'plane' was going until it had ducked out of sight behind another building. "A dear friend of mine named, Geesaw Hackwrench, was an inventor of sorts. If it was mechanical, he could create it, and few could best his intelligence. But sadly, he past away some time ago." A look of sadness crossed over his face and clouded his eyes.
"Your letting your age show again, old friend," Apollo said in a sympathic voice, "if someone else had found away to fly without using human inventions themselves..."
"There wasn't many mice that could," Hmmvy said shaking his head. "And there isn't many teachers that could give the education that it took for inventionors to get those ideas."
"Well if one rodent did who is to say someone else couldn't", Apollo countered, "Besides maybe he had children."
"Oh Gadget, his daughter," Hmmvy said with a bit amusement. "Now that would be something to see."
Humphrey remembered the first time he had met Gadget. She was quite young but inquisitive about everything and anything. From why water flowed one way and not the other, what made an engine work. While he let her father explain the latter, Humphrey was more than willing to teach her about the way of nature. It would be nice to see her again, perhaps catch up on her life. 'Perhaps she isn't married', he thought as he looked at Apollo. But the thought of Foxglove brought him back to the subject at hand.
"Maybe, we need to have a little heart to heart talk with Foxglove." Hmmvy said with a sigh, "Perhaps she would be willing to talk to us now that we are here in the city."
"Hmm..." Apollo said switching his attention to the problem at hand, "Oh yeah, that would be a good idea."
Weapons practice was always something that put some focus in Apollo's life. Something that always seemed to direct his energies toward something useful, instead of the dreaded feeling that Apollo felt in the pit of his stomach. Tonight, the practice weapon was the staff, Apollo's weapon of choice. He had always enjoyed the manuverability and the versatility of this seemingly innocent piece of wood. Choosing to practice by himself, Apollo allowed each of his moves to flow as if he had become the wind itself, both violent and peaceful at the same time. Watching from his perch was Foxglove, who loved to watch the young mouse in action. She always seemed to like the movements of Apollo's body and how at peace he would seem. Not like the intense, irrepressible lad that he always seemed to be his usual personality.
"I thought you would be here" Hmmvy said setting himself on a perch near her. *Well now is a good of time as ever.* "You know you have not been yourself lately. Or should I say you have been too much like yourself."
Foxglove, surprised by the statement, looked at Humphrey oddly, "W..what do you mean?" She seemed to shrink back as she said it.
"Foxglove, dear, you have been with us for far too long not to expect us not to pick up on your nervousness." He said making himself a little more comfortable where he was sitting. "Something has you upset and that has us worried."
*They'll reject me*, she thought, *They'll reject me as others have.*
"Please if there is anything I or Apollo can do to help you, but you will have to trust us." Humphrey continued as he began to doubt anything can come from this.
Foxglove now on the verge of tears wanted to, once again, run as far away as possible. Fear of rejection, and loneliness gripped her like a steel glove. "If I tell you," She said hesitantly, "You won't want me anymore than..." She dared not go any farther.
"Who dearest," Humphrey said lending a wing to cry on. "Who would want to reject you?" The thought alone was impossible to even conceive.
"Freddie, Lou, Dale, the Rescue Rangers..." She started to sob softly.
"Perhaps you should start from the beginning." Humphrey said with concern. "If you tell us what happened, maybe we can resolve some of these things. If nothing else you can learn to trust us a little more."
So Foxglove told him, everything from the time Foxglove joined Freddie's gang; to when she met Dale and her love for him. Humphrey only nodded comforting her when ever she stopped and gave the occasional 'go on'. He began to understand her pain, he had heard it so many times at the orphanage.
"We were so happy together," Foxglove said softly, "To me he was my world. And I think that Dale loved me. That was until Freddie struck again and hypnosis me into stealing again. After the caper, Dale told me that he was really mad at me for breaking my promise not to steal again. I didn't know what to do, so I flew away as far and as fast as I could. That was when I found you two in the forest."
"And the rest is history." Apollo said as he jumped onto the branch that the other two was sitting on. He left his staff at the base of the tree as to not alarm Foxglove any further than necessary. "Blast it Foxglove, were a team, no we're more than that, we're family. And as far as I am concerned that's all that matters to me."
"Y..you don't hate me then?" She asked timidly.
"No, I just wished you opened up to us more, that's all." Apollo said wiping a tear that had found it's way to his face. He always hated to see any of his friends sad. "It's been hard on you keeping these secrets from us, hasn't it?"
Foxglove only nodded, numbed by the reopening of some of her wounds. She felt the elder hummingbird and the younger mouse hug her. The feeling of family and love that the two expressed for her broke the dams of denial and fear that kept her emotions in a state of limbo. She cried for a long and hard as the others seemed to do nothing but console her.
Chapter 3 - Paths Near the Garden
Ranger Headquarters was a place of solace for Chip. Even with his obsession with crime fighting, he always liked the fact that he had a place to hang his hat down and relax. Perhaps curl up to a good mystery book and sharpen his skills as a detective. Maybe he just liked the peace and quiet of the place.
Maybe not as peaceful as he wanted it.
Sticking his head out of the doorway of his bedroom he look and only slapped his head in annoyance as he saw the disaster before him. The front door was knocked off it's hinges and the sofa was flipped upside down. The keyboard in front of the TV had been flipped upside down as well making the screen read gibberish as the characters filled it. Chip could distinctly hear a hiss from something that sounded like an engine and a loud groan coming from a newly made indenting in the wall.
With a sigh he walked over to the pilot of what looked to be a jet pack. With one good jerk Chip was able to get him out of the wall. Taking his helmet off of his head the pilot in question, which was Dale only shook his head in wonderment, "Gosh, I guess I shouldn't have ducked under that last branch."
A shout of concern came from the outside, "Dale are you ok?"
To respond for his lifelong friend Chip said "Yeah, he looks fine to me, he just landed on his head, no real damage."
Gadget rush into the living room followed by Monterey Jack and Zipper. Dale just got up and with a silly grin said, "Gosh, that was fun Gadget let's do it again."
Monterey whistled, "Bonzer job luv, your invention worked perfectly," His smile dropped a little after he saw the state of the living room, "but do you think that next time we could point the thing in another direction perhaps."
Gadget looked at her Jet pack with a small bit of concern, not noticing the state of the room she was in, "Well the trajectory was off by about 4.63 degrees. But don't worry I can fix that." She continued to help Dale out of the jet pack. "Then we can try a second test, right Monty?"
Zipper and Monterey both glupped, "Sorry Gadget, but me and Zip here are going to go to the docks today and look at the ships coming in with the Cheeeeze." *Perfect excuse to get us out of harms way to* he mused silently.
"That's ok Gadget I do it again." Dale said with that oh-so-subtle approach to get into her good graces.
"Sorry Dale, but I wanted to get a variance of weight so that I could compensate for Monty's body size." She said in her usual manner.
"Beside someONE has to clean up this mess." Chip finally chimed in.
"Why do I have to do it?" Dale said flatly.
"Because, you twit, you made the mess in the first place." Chip said in a voice of authority.
"It was an accident, and don't call me a twit." Dale said in an irritation.
"Are too a twit."
*It's like living with children sometimes.* Gadget said coming back from her workshop. She genuinely like both Chip and Dale a lot. Them and the Rangers had been the best of friends and only resemblance to a family she had ever, still she could never get over the bickering that those two had. *Still it is kind of cute.*
"Well maybe I can help then," Gadget interrupted, "It was my invention that made the mess in the first place."
"Thanks Gadget," Dale piped up. He was glad that she was around, especially after Foxglove left. Then his smile drooped a bit, with that line of thought. Grabbing the flipped sofa he began to put it back in it's place.
Both Gadget and Chip the slight change in Dale's expression, "Well, I guess since it was an accident I guess well can all do it." Chip said, helping his friend put the sofa in the right place. Meanwhile Gadget fixed the keyboard and monitor resetting the screen.
Chip looked at Dale for a moment. Chip had remembered the first time he had seen that look in his friend's eyes before. It was just after Foxglove had left and Dale spent the next few days searching for her. Dale had always had an one track mind, which was handy to have from time to time (although, Chip would never admit it to anyone); however this had made Dale so sick, he spent the next few weeks in bed. The bright, child-like sparkle had been replaced with an emptiness far off look. Even Gadget's attention couldn't snap Dale out of his glum mood. It took even longer not to convince Dale not to continue his search. However, he had seemed to pull out of his slump and even started competing with Chip for Gadget's affections. Not that Chip was happy about that, but he was happy that Dale was getting back to normal.
"You know we should plan on last picnic before the season changes." Dale said trying to think of anything not related to Foxglove.
"Sure Dale that's a great idea," Gadget said finally finishing her part of the job. "How about tomorrow we all go."
Chip smiled at the idea but of course work came first, "What about out patrolling of the city, evil doesn't just take a holiday you know."
"Oh come on Chip it'll be fun," Dale said, "besides we'll be near the tree if there is anything we need and we'll take the Ranger Plane so we can go patrolling afterwards."
"Well, we might as well start now," Chip said mischievously, "Before Monterey gets back so we can have food for this picnic."
Chapter 4 - Enter the Garden
The next day was very busy for Apollo and company. First they arranged the sleep schedule so that Foxglove and Humphrey would not have a problem staying awake at the same time. It was the group's hope that it wouldn't matter after they find a place to call home for the winter. It was agreed that they would sleep the wee hours of the night until the nooning sun. That way both Humphrey and Foxglove would feel comfortable at least some of the time. It was also decided that they would explore the park that day, avoiding the Rangers for now, and find a place to stay for the evening. Lastly, Apollo would go off on his own to where his parents had lived before they vanished.
Apollo and Humphrey had always assumed that Apollo's parents were killed, but the circumstances were always one that couldn't be explained. So, Apollo would track down some of the animals that knew them and find out what happened. Foxglove would stay out of sight but also work as a look out just in case trouble reared it's ugly head. She herself felt a little better since she had relieved her past to her friends, and that they had felt nothing less then a family love for her too.
Foxglove had to admit that Apollo was always the younger brother that she never had, or could hope to have. The best thing was that there was no romantic entanglements between them. Apollo was just as content as ever just to be her big brother and was equally glad and relieved that she had no romantic intentions toward him. Flying up to a branch under some shade she watched as the two long time friends began to spar as they regularly have done in the past. Humphrey would usually teach Apollo the finer points of fencing, (As Hmmvy himself was a champion fencer in his 'younger' days). As of yet Apollo could never fully dominate any fight when it came to fighting at sword point, usually scoring, 'kills' every once in a while. But, from the years she knew them, this only happened when Humphrey allowed him to score, after learning a specific lesson or when the fight lasted a long time. When that happened Apollo's endurance usually won out, but that was rare. Humphrey prided himself on studying his opponent, finding his weakest spot; exploiting it quickly and effectively.
Humphrey, noticing that the young bat had come, dropped his level of fighting down a notch. He liked doing this to keep her moral up a little, and besides he liked playing with Apollo a bit. He had to admit however, that he couldn't drop too low lest, Apollo would best him easily, then he would never hear the end of it. 'Giving' a little ground he could already hear the taunting begin, "What's a matter old timer, age catching up with you." Apollo would say pressing the offensive.
'That's right come into my parlor said the patient spider to the foolish fly.' Humphrey thought as he saw Apollo's defense drop too low. 'Now that will simply not do.' Feigning a thrust Humphrey stuck his talon in front of Apollo's extended leg. Apollo who realized his mistake way too late. Already committed in movement Apollo tried to simply jump over but found the edge of his foot caught on the end of Humphrey's talon tripping him up.
Apollo rolled with the fall ending on the far side of the clearing only to find Humphrey already poking him in the side with the tip of his beak. "Score one for the old timer." Humphrey said with a smug look on his face.
Wiping the sweat from his furry brow, Apollo grumbled, "Oh you just got lucky. In a real fight you'd be in trouble." It was at that point that he hear a bit of laughter and clapping coming from the tree. Apollo was glad to hear Foxglove happy but had wished that it was not at his expense. Giving a 'hmpf', Apollo said, "You know you could do a bit of good working out too. I can teach you some self-defense moves and Humphrey here can show you how to defend yourself in the air."
Foxglove was flattered with the offer and agreed to learn. After it was decided that they would start the next day, a very much toweled off Apollo and Humphrey started their trek to the city. All the while Foxglove had considered her role in this family. They wanted her a part of their lives and enjoyed her company. On more then one occasion she was great help to the cases that they picked up along their travels. She would more often then not lent medical attention when ever one or both were hurt. She was relied on when they needed a scout at night. Slowly, it dawned on her how much she was depended on and it made her swell up a little more with pride. 'Maybe they'll help me when I try to win Dale back.'
Apollo was watching as he saw a pack of animals standing in a line just outside of the city limits. Humphrey, who was flying with Foxglove motioned her to look toward the city, one radar read later, she could tell that there was four figures blocking one of the entrances. Most of them seemed to be rats and one mouse.
"What's going on here?" Apollo asked a nearby mouse.
The mouse who seemed to mistaken Apollo for someone else said in a frightened voice, "Don't worry I've got Capone's payment right here." The mouse in question seemed to be looking at Apollo's staff and needle sword with a great amount of fear.
Apollo considered his options for a moment while his anger grew. He could either act as the mouse had thought of him: a thug; or he could try to get the mouse to tell him what was going on. Choosing the latter, Apollo asked, "Why are you paying this Capone money?"
"If we don't then he will do to us what he did to Evan's house and family." the mouse timidly replied, "I have two children and I don't want to see them hurt."
This seemed to anger Apollo even further. Turning toward the sky he whistled up and gave a sign for the others to come down. Foxglove seeing the look on Apollo's face knew that something wasn't right. Humphrey saw the look of a fight coming across Apollo's face.
"I saw three rats and a mouse over there." Foxglove said. She was more concerned that someone would become hurt than anything else.
"It looks like a protection racket guys. Want to make our entrance known by shutting it down." Apollo said with an evil grin.
Humphrey answered, "Now it wouldn't do for us to be taken off schedule you know. But perhaps we can take time out of our day to show these villains the meaning of respect."
Foxglove said, "If your going so am I."
"Ok here's the plan, Humphrey and I will attack them directly," Apollo looked over to see the look of annoyance crossing Humphrey's face, "oh come on it's only two to one odds; besides you could probably best them in a fight by yourself."
"Famous last words my friend," Humphrey said.
"They will not be mine," Apollo said "Foxglove, I need you to be backup and get animals away from the area. Then when that is done, find where the stolen things are hidden and start giving those back to the people they belong to."
"You can count on me guys," Foxglove responded, mentally figuring out if she had enough bandages for Apollo, for when he got hurt. She also stashed some ointment as well just in case.
"Are you the Rescue Rangers?" the mouse said with a little bit hope in his voice.
"Nope we are just Angels in the Garden." Apollo said grabbing Foxglove's legs as she ascended into the air. Apollo distinctly heard a whispered prayer as he was flown toward the group of troublemakers. The inquisitive mouse looked in awe as he began to tell everyone who he just met.
Rat Capone was happy with his new protection racket. Being just outside of the city limits it was not noticed by the Rescue Rangers. *Soon*, he thought *I will be the number on rat in the city. And no one will be able to stand up to me.* He knew that out here no on had the guts to stand up to him or his 'secret weapon'. If they did, all the more foolish they would be.
On either side of him stood his henchmen Ratinagger and Bruno. As these 'peasants' past what little they had left Capone took great amounts of joy in taking.
"Ah another day another hundred dollars, see," He said waving a small gold ring on his finger. "By the time I'm done this whole place will be sucked dry."
"That's because villains like you are nothing but leeches. Trying to suck dry something that doesn't belong to you." Apollo said as he was dropped right in front of Capone. "Surrender and give these people their belongings or I'll give you a pounding you will not soon forget."
With a snap of his fingers Capone's henchmen circled around the table only Bruno found himself picked up by a very angry looking hummingbird slamming Bruno into the wall. Meanwhile Foxglove picked up a small child and took her and her mother safely away from the ensuing fight.
Apollo, not even giving Ratinagger a chance to attack, leapt up and kick the bigger rat square in the mouth. As the rat staggered back, Apollo whipped out his staff and fell into stance bringing the butt of the staff toward the currently, bewildered rat. Hearing footsteps approaching from behind Apollo executed a jumping back flip that sent the surprised Capone flying right into the bigger rat.
Humphrey on the other hand was taking a slight bit of enjoyment, pelting his foe with a series of blows from his beak. Bruno started feeling like a pin cushion as he tried to rush Humphrey. To Bruno's dismay all he did was swing at air as Humphrey kicked him into the newly pile of villains. "That my friend was the shortest fight I have ever been involved in." Humphrey said as he pointed his beak at the three.
"I'll take quality over quantity any day of the week." Apollo said smiling. "But isn't there suppose to be a fourth mouse here."
Humphrey was about to respond when someone dropped behind them. Turning he said to Apollo, "I see we have another visitor."
Pivoting himself where he was still pointing his staff toward the villains, Apollo looked at who Humphrey was referring to. He was dressed head to toe in a red suit that covered up his features, except the ears. The fact that he was still an inch taller than Apollo and had well defined muscles told Apollo that this one was not to be underestimated.
"Allow me to introduce to you my partner, Mouso, he is of course very interested breaking new friends." Capone said with a great deal of sarcasm.
"Flattery will get you a boot to the head ugly." Apollo responded taking his staff and maneuvering it toward the new villain, Mouso. Mouso, however still remained still, with his arms crossed looking at Apollo, as if to study him. But, Apollo allowed himself to relax, this guy was no push over and he knew it. Making one last look to make sure that Humphrey would be able to keep the villains in check walked toward the larger mouse.
"Fight" was all that the masked mouse said before he opened up a series of blows to the head and chest. As best as he could Apollo countered with a series of blocks from his staff, however the bigger mouse still got a good hit that sent Apollo to the ground. Getting up he noticed that Mouso, was at least taking a little more caution with him, but still advancing on the smaller mouse. Flipping his staff around Apollo struck with a vigorous amount of force, but with such fine control that he could keep himself from getting in arm's reach of he foe. Mouso, with all of his bulk seemed to dodge the blows easily. Apollo would strike right at his midsection and Mouso would simply not be there. 'Blast he's good.' Apollo thought as the battle raged between the two mice, both exchanging blows with blocks and parries.
Frustrated with the fight, Mouso jumped back and reached behind and sent two objects at Apollo. Dodging the first, Apollo spun his staff to bat away the second only to watch his staff nearly cut in half by what looked like a miniature saw blade. Mouso allowed his opponent a moment to realize the folly of his ways before he went into a roundhouse aimed at Apollo's head.
Apollo dropped the now useless staff to the ground and slipped underneath the devastating kick. He instead swept the leg of Mouso, watching him roll and jump back up again. Apollo himself bounded back up onto his back legs and held up a hand motioning Mouso to come and get it. The two circled each other checking for weaknesses, Apollo looking over his shoulder saw Foxglove and Humphrey tying up the other villains and watching with a mixture of shock and dismay at the fight that was about to start again.
"Well, looks like you lose all of your precious money," Apollo said off-handedly. "And your friends seem to be all rounded up. Why don't you do yourself a favor and just surrender?"
"Because, if it was money I wanted," Mouso said in a mocking voice, "I could have a thousand-fold of what is here." Apollo was only looking at him when he leapt at the smaller mouse, "What I want is right in front of me."
Dodging the first jump kick, Apollo rolled a side as to regroup himself. In his head he ignored everything around him, except Mouso. There was something about him that did not make the fight seem right. Quickly, he dispatched that thought. Stepping back into a defensive posture Apollo waited for Mouso to attack; then when he struck instead of dodging the blow Apollo simply instead grappled the fist spun himself around and flipped Mouso down to the ground. Trying to get enough leverage Apollo found himself brutally knocked to the ground by a spinning low kick. The back of Mouso's hand knocked the air out of Apollo. Rolling over away from Mouso, the smaller mouse had barely enough time to dodge a fist that was coming to an odd angle of his head. Clutching his chest jumped up and away from his opponent landing near Humphrey and Foxglove.
"A bit anti-climatic do you not agree, Apollo." Mouso said dusting himself off. "Come now, there is still a fight to be won."
Rising up and catching his breath Apollo answered, "Fine." He could hear Capone taunting him in the background but ignored what he was saying.
Humphrey looked at Foxglove with a worried look, "Foxglove when I give the signal," he said in a whispered voice, "Grab Apollo and get him out of there. I'll cover you and press an attack against Mouso."
Foxglove nodded her head, as she made sure the bonds on the others were tight enough to where she was sure they would not escape. Then Humphrey and Foxglove stepped to either side of Apollo. Apollo motioned them to keep back and advanced forward by himself. Taking a completely different stance, Apollo brought his body low and crouched. Mouso, began with his usual series of punches, with a slight difference; his punches were quicker and lighter. Therefore more hits were landing and even with Apollo parrying, stung a whole lot.
Apollo on the other hand was grabbing and deflecting Mouso out of the way effectively causing a stalemate between the two once again. But instead of stepping back Mouso pressed forward with his attacks. It was the opening Apollo needed.
Allowing a punch to hit him in the chest, Apollo ignored the pain and slammed his elbow into Mouso's arm. As he yelped in pain, Apollo slung him around and used his legs to not only bounce Mouso hard to the ground but used his body as a springboard to give him more room to maneuver in.
Humphrey began his move toward Mouso as Foxglove flew up and over to get to Apollo. Mouso, only smiled as he said, "Another time perhaps, when there is less of a distraction."
Apollo, who wasn't about to let Mouso leave, tried to grab at him again. However, Mouso threw white powder at him, temporally blinding the smaller mouse. As Apollo squealed in pain, Mouso spun around and grappled Humphrey's beak just as he was about to slam it into his midsection. Instead Humphrey found his beak slammed into the dirt far enough down where he was not getting out anytime soon. Turning once again to Apollo he said. "Your friends are a credit to you. But they can not stop the things to come. Farewell."
With that he leapt up to the nearest branch and bounded away.
Foxglove helped clear the powder out of Apollo's eyes as they went to help Humphrey. As the three looked around Apollo said, "Well we got three out of four. That's not too bad is it."
"Tell that to my beak," Humphrey groaned setting upright. "And if he comes back for these people for revenge..."
"He won't come back for them." Apollo said as he watched Rat Capone and his gang being lead away by some of the townspeople. "He wanted something."
"What would he want if it wasn't power or riches." Foxglove said as she started to apply bandages and ointment on Apollo.
"I don't know, but this isn't the last time we will meet." Apollo said. In the back of his mind a question stuck out still unanswered, *How did he know my name?*
Chapter 5 - In the Heart of the Garden
It was late at night and he still found himself poking at the burnt embers of what was a warm fire. Searching for something he thought was there, an answer to the questions that had filled his mind. Looking over he could see Humphrey and Foxglove peacefully sleeping in a large Maple tree that sat on the edge of the park. Questions of mysteries unsolved: Mouso, his parents, the links of the past that seemed to tie the trio all together yet having nothing to do with each other. Apollo never believed in 'accidents' in fate, nor did he believe in sealed ones either. He always thought that you were presented with choices always and that one was usually not doomed into being forced into one. With a sigh, he continued to push about the embers, seemingly mesmerized by the dull reddish glow. While he had not shared his thoughts with the others, he had shared the need to find a permanent place to live for the winter.
Not all was lost in his mind, Apollo still was very happy to be close to where he was born. There were small reminders of his young childhood, there was still a market just on the corner near the park. It was run by the same raccoon, still as kind as ever to the people around him. Little children running with their young human companions, playing frisbee, fetch among other games. *I wish I could keep those memories and put them in a bottle.*
His eyes close with the images of laughing with his parents and being so free. *I miss you.* was the last thought that went though Apollo's mind as he drifted off to sleep.
Foxglove was always the early riser of the group, whether it was daytime or nighttime. She made sure the camp was safe and secure before leaving to go feed. Gradually, she made her way to where Apollo was sleeping, making sure her bandages were in place. 'I wish he would stop trying to take the whole animal kingdom by himself.', she thought to herself. Satisfied that all was well, Foxglove decided to take care of herself and feed. Foxglove went about foraging for food, carefully concealing herself from plain sight.
After a while she settled down on a tree not too far from Ranger Headquarter. Listening to her echolocation, Foxglove 'heard' her beloved; and for one fleeting moment she felt the urge to swoop from the sky and filling him with kisses. 'It would be so easy,' she thought to herself, then the doubt started to make it's presence felt, 'but would he return that love in return?'
Hiding in the shade she watched as the Rangerplane take off with the whole team. Watching hope, once again fly away, she went back to the encampment. Saddened, but still feeling the afterglow of nabbing bad people and seeing justice win again, Foxglove lightly woke up Humphrey and Apollo.
"Ugh, is it time to get up already?", Apollo protested, "I don't wanna get up now." It was then that his body, having enough of being a punching bag, sent a painful sensation to prove the point. Rolling up into a seated possession, Apollo said, "I think I need to rest today guys. Gaia, did that bruiser give me a workout or what?"
"You went and nearly got yourself killed again, Apollo," Foxglove admonished, "and now your paying for it." Not saying another word she started changing the bandages. Foxglove always 'loved' how Apollo seemed to find new and better ways to mangle his body.
"Congratulations, Mr Thisletoe," Foxglove said after looking the young mouse over, "You have just acquired a nice set of bruised ribs and have strained your wrist something fierce." She gently flopped the arm strap to exaggerate the point.
"So Foxglove, what is the final word?" Humphrey said as he began to fully wake up.
"Apollo isn't going anywhere for at least a day or two." Foxglove said flatly, "And I mean a day or two. Not half a day and then spar."
"I understand." Humphrey said settling beside Apollo, "So can we do any exploring today?"
Foxglove was surprised that Humphrey was looking to her for a decision. In the past she would only go along with what Apollo or Humphrey wanted or planned on doing. She was, in a sense, just reacting to what the others wanted to do. "I don't know..." she said hesitantly, "I don't want to let Apollo hurt himself any further by moving when he shouldn't," She tried to stop there; but her heart betrayed her, "and I don't want Dale to know I am here yet."
Humphrey nodded, "Then I'll go get lunch and dinner and be back in a little while. Oh and by the way, Apollo, I am slightly irritated that you tried to take on that Mouso character by yourself." Without another word Humphrey leapt up and flew away. His eyes shown the fear that he had felt that past day.
Apollo, who was fairly embarrassed, stammered to Foxglove, "Lo..look, I'm sorry that I tried to fight that mouse by myself. I guess I let my emotions run amok."
"Yes, you did," Foxglove responded sitting where Humphrey was before, "You get us worried when you do things like that. I halfway die whenever you jump out a tree just to stop some villain, when we could just as easily catch them with a little more teamwork." She began to shrink back into her more diminutive manner, "It makes me wonder, what is it that you are proving when you are doing such scary stunts."
Foxglove, for only a brief moment, saw a flash of anger cross Apollo's eyes. She didn't know if she was overstepping her boundaries, but she reminded herself that they would do and have done the same. Straightening his composure, Apollo let out a breath and said, "I really wish I could tell you Foxglove, but the truth is, I feel like I am having to prove myself over and over again." With a far off look in his eyes, he turned his attention to children running in the park.
"Proving yourself worthy of love and acceptance." Foxglove said almost to herself, "I know what that is like. Desperately wishing that someone would want an unloved orphan."
"For us it would seem," Apollo said softly, "that we are more alike each other than we care to admit."
"At least you can hide your emotions from the rest of the world," Foxglove said sadly, "That takes strength."
Lifting Foxglove's retreating head, Apollo responded, "But, it takes more to show your feelings and be honest about them."
Chapter 6 - Old Friends in the Garden
Humphrey was deep in thought when he foraged for food. The elder hummingbird was concerned with Apollo's continued attitude with taking the whole world on his own. Of all of the flaws in Apollo's personality, that one was the most likely to get him an early ticket into Gaia's arms. Humphrey quickly dismissed the thought that Apollo was trying to kill himself; Apollo if anything, was a lover of life itself, taking very little seriously (with the exception of the Garden's enemies). He had watched this young mouse grow up to be a fine gentlemouse and protector of those around him. Apollo was also an avid studier, he picked up on most techniques very quickly, and was able to refine them into his own style. 'So why does he insist on doing such dangerous things?', Humphrey thought to himself.
A shout from below caught the hummingbird's attention. It sounded like a battle cry. One that he had heard all to often before. 'While Foxglove maybe afraid of her past.' Humphrey thought swooping down to where he heard the sound, 'I prefer to relish in it.'
Walking up to the crate he could distinctly hear, "Ahhh, you know Zipper this is the life. Crimefightin' is good but nothing, I mean nothing, compares to a good wedge of Brae."
The fly, Zipper, only hummed in agreement taking a little for himself.
"You know I thought I cured you of that glutton's pursuit long time ago." Humphrey said in a mocking tone. "I guess you can't teach a old cheesehound new tricks."
"Crikey, 'Hopper is that you." Monetary Jack said turning toward the opening of the crate. Upon seeing the hummingbird, Monty ran up and gave his old friend a quick hug, "It's been what..."
"Too many years to let our age show." Humphrey said quickly cutting off Monterey Jack's comment. "What brings you here, last I heard you were still globehopping around the world, looking for the 'perfect wedge'."
"And I heard ya stopped being an 'Angel' a long time ago to run an orphanage." Monterey replied grabbing another wedge and offering it to his friend.
"You never stop being an 'Angel', Monty, you know that." Humphrey said in a dignified manner. "Besides I have a student now and an apt pupil at that."
An annoyed buzz made it's way to Monterey's ears, "Crikey, where are me manners, Humphrey this is Zipper one of me mates. Zip this is my old pal, Humphrey Castlehopper, one of the best fencers of all time. There wasn't anyone who could best him in a sword fight."
"Please Monty, a little modesty please." Humphrey said a little embarrassed, "I have been know to swash a few buckles in my time but..."
This time it was Monty's turn to interrupt, "Ha! Swash a 'FEW' buckles, remind me to tell you about the time that good old Humphrey here took on a sword fish and won." Zipper looked at Humphrey throughly impressed.
"Now Monty, you know if Geesaw hadn't rigged up a sword for me I would have not beaten the Great Python." Humphrey said pointy.
Monterey Jack just smiled at the memory, "Too right, and a walloping you gave him. You know it's been awhile but maybe we can go out on the town tonight. Paint it yellow with Cheese."
"I'd love to Monty. But I have to find a place for me and my friends stay for the winter." This caught Monty's attention as Humphrey continued, "Besides one of them is injured and we really don't want to move him until he is feeling better."
"Welp I guess it was a good thing you found me then mate," Monterey said with a big smile. "I can get Gadget to rig a hoist on the Rangerplane and bring him to over to our place. I'm sure she'd love to see ya again."
"So Gadget took up her father's legacy.", Humphrey said with pride momentarily forgetting the slip, "I'm glad that she did."
"Sure, hey Zip why don't you go back and get the rest of the Rangers to help his friend." Monterey asked. Zipper saluted and left for the Ranger Headquarters before Humphrey could begin to protest.
"You know I don't mean to inconvenience you Monty." Humphrey said worried about the mess that he had just created. "But, since you have, I need to tell you something."
"Sure thing pally," Monterey said keeping his smile. "You know we've been though a lot. Not much you can say that will surprise me."
"You'd better sit down, old cheese.", Humphrey said letting his worried feeling fill his voice. "As you know, 'Angels' are an organization to protect nature and all that it provides. We also pick our members by the fact that they have no ties to their past life. Mostly, we are made of orphans and runaways."
"Sure, Humphrey, I knew that about you a little while after we met", Monterey Jack said trying to get where this was leading. "I know that you also help protect littles especially, human or animal. And a bonzer of a job of it to."
"Thank you Monty, you know that the invitation was still extended out to you too." Humphrey said, the mouse nodded in response, "Well, one of my newest 'angels', is a young bat we met about two years ago. She was highly distraught and very much alone. So, Apollo (my pupil) and I took her in and helped her find a purpose in her life again."
This was sounding familiar to Monty but he couldn't make the connection yet, "That was right kind of you 'Hopper. I bet she her training is going well too, um, she does know doesn't she?"
"She like Apollo knows about the 'Angels' as a group of animals protecting Gaia's works. However, they don't know, the full extent of it's membership." Humphrey replied, he was feeling uncomfortable by degrees.
"Crikey, I bet the little nippers would have a heart attack when they do." Monty said trying to figure out why this was going to effect him drastically, "So why the tale, what does this have to do with me?"
"It doesn't have anything to do with you, at least not directly." Humphrey was starting not to like how this was going to come out, "She was at the end of the rope... she was, well she had just had her heart broken."
*Two years ago... Heartbroken...* The eyes lit up in Monterey Jack's eyes, this was a surprise, "You aren't meaning..."
With a heavy sigh, Humphrey admitted, "Yes my friend, the young bat is Foxglove."
For once Monterey had nothing to say, what could you say to something like that. Instead the next sound came from outside of the crate, "Monty, Zipper said that you needed me for an emergency... Gosh Monty are you ok?"
Monterey only looked at Gadget oddly and looked at Humphrey. Gadget, turned to Humphrey and almost immediately, "Gollllyy, is that you Uncle Hummer."
"Yes dearheart it's me," Humphrey said sadly, "This wasn't exactly the reunion I had in mind. You have grown up so lovely and so smart, just like your mom and dad."
Gadget blushed at the comment, nobody usually put both of those two qualities together. Then, snapping back into what Zipper had told her, "So what's the emergency?"
"Gadget luv, there is something that we need to talk about," Monterey Jack said walking toward the Rangerplane, "But, I'll explain on the way to helping Humphrey's injured friend."
Chapter 7 - Coming Together in the Garden
"So what was it that had you so spooked about Mouso?", Foxglove said, trying to change the subject away from personal emotions, "I mean it was like he knew you from somewhere."
Apollo pondered on the question for a moment, racking his brain to see who could resemble that person. When nothing came to mind he finally spoke, "He knew my name...and I could not remember either you or Hmmvy calling out my name. I can not think of where it was I met Mouso, if I actually did..."
"So he knew you but you didn't know him?" Foxglove said a little scared at the prospect of being hunted by that... monster.
"Yeah, I guess," Apollo responded, his brain had switched tracks and started working on the battle yesterday, "I think it had to do with just me though."
"Just you?" Foxglove seemed to relax a bit from that comment.
"He directly challenged me, singling me out even when you guys tried to help me." Apollo explained, "He directed almost all of his concentration on me. I think I am what he is looking for. But why?"
"You have helped a lot of people and made a lot of enemies in doing so it stands to reason you could have been hunted." Foxglove said.
Confusion set into Apollo's mind, "No... maybe... I don't know. All I do know is that he was here. In this city, maybe waiting for me. He seemed to have been hired by that Capone creep, so he must have been in the city longer than us." Apollo hated having only half a puzzle in front of him. It was something he couldn't just knock out with one blow... and that scared him a little. Sure he would battle Mouso without a second thought, but the reasons of the fight eluded Apollo. He really wished that Humphrey was here to help him with this mystery.
"And he didn't take the opportunity to hurt you after he blinded you." Foxglove said after a bit of pondering. "Nor did he attack me when I tried to get to you. What if it was a test?"
The thought blind-sided Apollo, "Measuring me... I don't know... maybe..." Suddenly, he realized that the help he needed was coming from Foxglove, "Hey, when did you start becoming a detective?"
"Why from good ole Humphrey's teachings, of course." Foxglove giggled, "I was listening to your adventures before you met me and he decided to teach me in the 'art' of deduction. I've been learning for about six moons now."
"I'm surprised he finds the time to do anything after I wear him down from practice." Apollo said sarcastically.
"Umm... actually it was after *you* fell asleep, when you two were done sparring." She responded, "And he would always start out by saying like: (Imitating Humphrey's voice) 'Bah, that young whippersnapper doesn't know the meaning of the word, endurance' and he would start in on one of your adventures."
'Oh, I'll show HIM endurance', Apollo thought to himself twisting his smile a little. But he said, "Of course you'd..."
Apollo's thoughts were interrupted by a low churning sound coming from the air. Looking up to the sky he could see two flying figures coming toward them. He didn't even have to motion for Foxglove, watching the bat fly up to a nearby branch. After she used her echolocation, Foxglove's eyes went wide and she fled behind the huge maple tree.
Seeing this, Apollo instinctively grabbed his needle sword. He didn't like the odds one bit. Between his bad wrist and bruised ribs Apollo was very slow in getting up at all. But if it was a fight the people wanted, then he would certainly give them a run for their money.
Focusing on the flying objects he could see one that was all to familiar. 'Humphrey', he exhaled, sheathing his sword. He was about to call out to Foxglove when he saw the emblem on the other object, the plane he saw earlier in the week. 'RR' he went from annoyance to irritated as he realized the initials, 'Rescue Rangers'.
"Have you lost what's left of your mind!" Apollo shouted, limping up to where Humphrey and the Ranger plane landed.
"I'm sorry..." Humphrey said tiredly, "I wasn't... I mean I didn't...", he began, but, gave up as he could already see Apollo's temper had reached it's limit.
"Golly, that looks like painful." Gadget said jumping out of the plane. Monterey had already walked out of the plane and made a beeline toward the maple tree.
"No kidding", Apollo said, giving Gadget a withering gaze. Then, he looked toward the elder hummingbird, "Well, spit it out."
Focusing his concentration on his friend, Humphrey explained, "Your injured, and I am taking responsibility for that even if you don't."
"But, SHE'S doing a good enough job." Apollo said still more than a little mad.
"Foxglove, is doing a fine job. But we have a temporary place to stay as well as a long overdue reunion." Humphrey answered, becoming a little annoyed at the way he spoke to his 'niece'.
"Senility must be setting in, because, I distinctly heard her say that she didn't want to be found." Apollo retorted angrily.
"And if you had not done such a boneheaded stunt I would not have had to take such a drastic measure in the first place." Humphrey shouted. 'Calm yourself', Humphrey thought trying to regain his composure. "I was unaware that an old friend of mine was a member of the Rescue Rangers."
This seemed to calm Apollo down a bit, he knew that Humphrey would never lie to him. Biting his anger back he said, "Ok, fine, the damage is done, I'll start getting packed up." He limped passed Gadget, who, still struck speechless by the raw anger seething from Apollo.
"Forgive his harshness dear," Humphrey said in a whisper, "He is very protective of his friends and I fear that his anger's will be focused on us for a little while."
"Gosh, why would he protect Foxglove from us?" Gadget said recovering.
She'd seen the others angry before, but not filled with this much resentment.
"I'm afraid that, like Foxglove, Apollo has been alone for most of his life", Humphrey continued. "He sees Foxglove as a sister and therefore family. I'm afraid that he also sees the Rescue Rangers as a threat to her."
"I can understand that", Gadget replied, knowing that somehow she would react the same for her 'family'.
Monterey had yelled for Foxglove for a few moments, but couldn't get an answer from her. Zipper was about to fly up to the tree to look when Apollo approached. Still angry Apollo said, "Your not going to get her down unless she wants to; and she isn't going to be found unless she wants to, either."
"Right," Monterey said walking up to the tree, "Then, good old Monterey Jack will just have to go up and get her."
"No..." Apollo said in a low voice, "'Good old Monterey Jack' is going to back off and let me get her down myself." Not waiting for an answer Apollo limped around the tree. After seeing a familiar patch of pink Apollo shouted, "Come on down, Foxglove. I don't think that they are here to hurt you."
Apollo waited for a few moments watching Foxglove look down, eyes filled with fear. Shifting his weight to his good leg he continued, "Please, don't make me have to come up there and get you myself... cause you know I will."
Foxglove shifted uncomfortably as she descended to the ground. "Will you stay with me?"
"Of course I will," Apollo said, "and if they try anything funny; we'll be out of there like a bat out of..."
"DON'T say that," Foxglove said as she begun to walk back to the Ranger plane.
There was an awkward silence walking back. Apollo was studying Monterey and Gadget, trying to gauge how much a threat they would be if he did have to fight his way out. Humphrey, on the other hand, was trying to think of a way to apologize to Foxglove; as well as find away to cool Apollo off. Foxglove, in a world by herself, was trying to squash all the doubt in her mind; and hoping that Apollo would not fly off the handle trying to protect her. Monterey only shook his head, he hoped that Dale would, for once, think about what he wanted to say, and that it lead back down the road to love.
Gadget, who was actually happy that Foxglove had been found, couldn't take her eyes off of Apollo. Even injured he had a prideful stride, and a determined look in his eye; and above all he had NOT gone completely gaga over meeting her. This annoyed her and delighted her at the same time. Starting up the plane, she made sure that everyone was secure. Monty, as usual, seemed to be relaxed with Zipper on his shoulder. 'Nothing phases him,' Gadget thought flying back to Ranger Headquarters.
Flying off to the side Foxglove glided beside Humphrey and asked in a small voice, "Why?"
The elder hummingbird looked to the younger bat, "There was two reasons for this: the first is because Apollo is injured and the nights are getting colder, and I was concerned that his injuries would not fare with the weather; secondly, and most importantly, because, I wanted to see you happy." Humphrey said stopping in midair, "I want to see you smile and laugh and heal. You are turning out to be a fine healer and an even finer 'Angel'... *sigh* and I wanted you to go on with your life if this didn't work out. If it means anything I am sorry, had I know that one of my old friends was a Rescue Ranger, I would not have approached him the way I did."
"What if I don't want to do this?" Foxglove asked sadly. It was a rhetorical question at that but one she wanted to hear the answer to.
"Then you would grab Apollo out of the plane and we would abruptly leave." Humphrey said without hesitation. Although, he was slightly scared that she would take that option, he was not about to make her do something she absolutely did not want to do.
Foxglove considered that option for a moment. She did want to see Dale again, but was this too soon. Laughing a bit, Foxglove thought bitterly, 'Is it two years too late?' "Ok, Humphrey... I guess that now would be a good time as ever to find out." With that Foxglove flew away with Humphrey in tow.
Chapter 8 - Closer to the Garden
Dale was confused. Not that it was unusual, that Dale was in that condition, but the circumstances were slightly different. He and Chip had just returned from police Headquarters to see if there were any cases that demanded their special attention. Not seeing anything unusual they decided to take the afternoon off, or rather Dale decided to take the afternoon off and Chip had given up pursuing otherwise.
They had returned to the park via mass transit, when Dale decided to go watch the humans play frisbee. Just as he was about to settle down when a young mouse ran up and hugged him. The little boy seemed hysterical when his mother walked up and gently coaxed the child to let go.
"Gosh what was that for?" Dale asked.
"Oh, Philippe was just wanting to thank you for helping us with that awful Rat Capone." The mother responded. She was slightly surprised with the reaction of the chipmunk. But she dismissed it as experience of the job the Rescue Rangers do in the city.
"Rat Capone?!?" Dale yelped. He hadn't heard anything from the villain since last year. If he was back, then Dale needed to tell Chip and the rest of the Rangers.
"Yes, he was forcing our town to pay him protection money." The mother replied, a little confused with the response. If she knew any better, she would have suspected that he didn't know what he was talking about.
"Wait here then and I'll get the others. If Capone's back we'll handle him." Dale said getting ready to leave but the mother shook her head.
"But you already stopped him." she said with a bit of annoyance, "We were just wanting to thank you for your kindness."
"Your welcome, ma'am," Dale said, now throughly confused. Did the Rangers go on a mission without him? That didn't make sense to him, he was with them at a picnic, yesterday. He had not heard anything from Chip about this, during breakfast. Why wouldn't they tell him if they did?
Wandering back to Ranger HQ, he noticed that the Ranger plane was gone. Maybe they DID go on a mission without him. Running up to the door, Dale saw Chip watching TV. Without a word Dale walked up and bonked Chip on the head.
"What did you that for, you dummy." Chip said glaring at Dale.
"You guys left me behind on a case," Dale said glaring back at Chip.
Chip looked slightly confused, "What are you talking about this time Dale?"
"Rat Capone was in the city, but none of you told me about it." Dale said irritated that Chip was trying to deny it.
"Oh brother," was all that Chip said rolling his eyes, "Look Dale, we haven't seen or heard from Rat Capone for a year. So just what in the world are you talking about?"
Dale explained what had just happened in the park. Chip scratched his chin, giving that 'stare' to Dale. After a moment of thought Chip bonked Dale on the head.
"Whatja do that for?" Dale said angrily.
"Dale did it ever occur to you that she may have mistaken us for another group?" Chip replied, as he walked back to the sofa.
"No, she said that we were the one's that helped her and her town." Dale said, letting his temper cool a bit.
"We were at a picnic yesterday Dale." Chip said, also calming down. Now that he had gotten Dale's brains working again, perhaps they would get someplace. "And we were all here last night, so it couldn't have been us that helped them." Then a thought struck Chip, "What if those 'Rangers', were impersonating us?"
"But, that's silly, why would anyone want to impersonate us doing good things?" Dale said defiantly, sitting near Chip on the other end.
This time Dale's question made sense.
Dale and Foxglove are reunited at last, as the Angels continue to look for a place to live.
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I'm sure that he would appreciate your comments :).
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